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Restaurant Marketing for Beginners: The Only Guide You Need 2 Succeed

Restaurant marketing: who knew it could be so complicated?





Convenience, fast and friendly service, and delicious food are obviously going to make your restaurant stand out from the crowd. 

However, unless your customers can look into the future or read your mind, they're not going to magically know what you offer, where you're located, or even what kind of food your restaurant has to offer. 

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And unfortunately, restaurant advertising can be expensive, so a lot of restaurants, (especially those that are just getting off the ground) are going to be crossing their fingers and jumping into the organic side of the restaurant marketing gig first. 

And that's where this guide will become your compass. 🧭 Are you ready to dive in and start learning about all of the well-known and little-known restaurant marketing ideas? Let's go!


logo-2 What is Restaurant Marketing?

Restaurant marketing is the art and science of brainstorming and creating an in-depth strategy for drawing customers in, letting them chow down on your delicious food, and analyzing the results of your campaign to see where and how you can improve for better, faster ROI


Before social media became the lifeblood of our daily lives, restaurant marketing was a fairly simple practice.

Now it can be a death sentence to use the "tried and tested" old practices- basic TV commercials (do people even still watch traditional TV?), the classic billboard, and MAYBE a Youtube ad if you're really "new-age". 

Today, 72% of customers are looking to social media for guidance on where to take their next bite, with over 99% of those individuals being GenZ or Millennial. 

This means that if your brand isn't taking advantage of restaurant marketing on social media and across the web, you're probably experiencing thousands of $$$$ in lost revenue every year. But don't worry. We can help. Just keep reading!

Why is Social Media Such an Integral Part of Restaurant Marketing?

For the same reason that the old methods don't work anymore. We've innovated and overcome to create a more inclusive, customized experience for diners, and part of that is making sure a target customer makes it into the right location.

But there are other reasons, too. Let's take a look at them.

  1. It gives your restaurant the opportunity to be found online 
  2. It gives your customers a good idea of what to expect- less surprises equal less complaints!
  3. Opens a communication line between each location and it's local customers, making it more likely that they'll enjoy a customized experience and feel comfortable 
  4. Gives customers a glimpse at what they're missing with yummy food pics, videos, and the setting itself, which is often just as important as the food aspect!
  5. Adds an air of professionalism to your restaurant brand as a whole
  6. Allows you to share special events, exclusive deals, and coupons with your followers to drum up excitement

There are, of course, plenty of opportunities that restaurant marketing can provide that we've missed, (we'd never have space for every benefit!) which is all the more reason why you should start experimenting ASAP!

How to Start Restaurant Marketing Like a Pro: Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Slay the Competition


We've worked alongside brands like Edible Arrangements and TGI Friday's to create compelling, beautiful social media images and marketing campaigns in the past, so we definitely have some amazing restaurant marketing ideas up our sleeves that we're super excited to share. 

However, first things first: you'll need a restaurant marketing plan. 

Creating a Restaurant Marketing Plan for Beginners

Without a plan, you won't know if what you're doing isn't working. 

Or even more importantly: if it's succeeding. 

So without further comment, here are seven steps to creating the perfect restaurant marketing plan!

Step #1: Assess the Situation

Starting from scratch? Picking up where a friend left off? Been winging it and ready to step up your restaurant marketing game? 

Wherever you find yourself in the process, the first step is to assess where you are and take notes of what your business and customers need from you. 

Step #2: Set an Objective

There are lots of objectives that you can set for your marketing plan that will help determine the road you need to take to get to a particular destination. 

Are you looking to specifically expand your online reach? Maybe you're looking to boost engagement, grow your following, or even all of the above. 

Each of these objectives will require different things, which is why it's imperative for the success of your brand to narrow down what you *want* from your restaurant marketing plan before launching your restaurant marketing plan.

Step #3: Set Clear Goals

This might sound like the exact same thing as objectives, but it's actually slightly different. 

Think of an objective as a very broad generalization of what you're aiming for in the long term. 

The goals are more detailed. For instance: "In six months, we'll have doubled our followers" or "10% increase in online orders". 

Setting goals can help keep you on track in the long term and keep the success momentum going so that you don't lose your confidence when things don't always work out. 

Step #4: Set a Restaurant Marketing Budget

Before you can put your goals and objectives into action, you'll need to set a hard line for spending. 

A budget can help keep spending in check when it comes to faulty campaigns and less than fantastic copy, images, videos, and more. 

In short: not every effort you make will be successful, so a budget allows you to adjust without spending too much before it's too late. 

Step #5: Determine Who Your Ideal Customer Is and What They Need From You

Other than the obvious: food, what does your target customer need from YOU?

You can easily figure this out, but first, you need to find out who your target audience actually IS- what does your ideal customer look like? 

This depends on not only the type of restaurant, but the type of service you provide, where you're located, and even how connected your dining rooms and other eating areas are. Things like WiFi can be a huge determining factor for younger customers, business teams, and professionals.

When you're taking down information, don't leave out important factors like interests and most active times on social media. These can come in handy later when you're targeting customers for your restaurant marketing plan. 

Step #6: Get Ready to Test. And Test. And Test Your Restaurant Marketing Efforts

Unfortunately, restaurant marketing isn't as easy as setting it up and leaving it to run forever. It takes a lot of hard work, optimizing, testing, more optimizing, more testing, and on and on forever. 

The plain and simple truth is that your brand's restaurant marketing efforts will never be the best they can be because the landscape is always shifting, and thus forcing your brand to shift with it. 

In addition, you don't want to be stagnant. You want to be moving and improving. Staying the same is surrendering yourself to failure before you've even begun.

Remember: there's ALWAYS untapped potential in the social media space. Even when you've found a successful approach.

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Step #7: Putting Your Restaurant Marketing Plan Together

Now it's time to combine all of your new restaurant marketing ideas into a single, nearly fool-proof restaurant marketing plan.

Will it be perfect? No. Will you have to continue improving it?

Yes. Does having a plan mean a higher ROI, a more engaged network, and more customers in the long run? YES!

So what are you waiting for? Let's start building that restaurant marketing plan! 🤘🏻

The Exhaustive List of Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Competition is always tooth and nail in the food marketing business. And that's why it's so important to put your best foot forward online: front and center for your customers to see. 

We're hopeful that you can utilize this exhaustive list of restaurant marketing content ideas and general restaurant marketing ideas to take your restaurant to new heights on social media. (And don't forget that we're always here to help!)

#1. Establish and Promote a Unique Brand Identity

You want your restaurant brand to stand out, right? You want your audience to recognize your content the second they see it. You want your brand voice and tone to be familiar and authentic. Part of this is establishing a unique brand identity. 

This might include a logo, the way you relate to customers online, your sense of humor, (or lack thereof), your brand colors, etc.

When you've determined what makes your brand truly unique, you can let it spill out onto the web. And this will help make your audience feel more at home, boost brand recognition, and drive people to your brand. 

Sounds like a win-win-win to us!

#2. Embrace the Food Porn Mentality

Food is amazing. One glance at Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not the practice of snapping fave food pics is still "in". Hint: it is. 

One of the most powerful ways to draw people into your restaurant is to show them what they're missing and then providing an experience THEY will want to share. 

That might look like taking some amazing pics of your food, like these amazing photos we took for Beef 'O' Brady's. You can view the whole case study and portfolio of photos and social media graphics HERE.




#3. Send Out a Newsletter with Exclusive Perks

Everyone loves cheap (or even free!) food every now and then. The newsletter can be a great way to drum up excitement around a brand new menu item, gift cards, sweepstakes, employee highlights, and more!

#4. Encourage and Utilize User-Generated Content

Everyone loves getting some attention online. Let your customers excited about potential features and creative UGC opportunities and see the free content pour in!

#5. Show Off the Staff

Showing off your staff is a great way to help customers feel more connected to your restaurant brand and see it as more of a family experience and less of a business transaction. 

This also helps foster inclusivity, 

  • Always Monitor Your Social Media Presence
  • Share the Positive Press
  • Respond to Comments
  • Keep the Website Functional
  • Utilize Social Paid Advertising


Frequently Asked Questions

We know you probably have a laundry list of questions, so we'll do our best to answer the biggest ones. Ready? Let's read.

Why Should I Consider Utilizing Paid Ads for Restaurant Marketing?

Paid ads can go significantly further than traditional organic restaurant marketing. You won't be limited to your followers, only your targeted audience.

So if you're looking for customers in a particular age range or region, restaurant marketing can be significantly amplified with paid advertising.

Do You Have to Have a Restaurant Marketing Plan?

Short answer: yes and no. 

We wouldn't demand that someone have a plan, but if they're working with us, we'll ALWAYS have a plan. 

Why? Because having a restaurant marketing plan is a key to the success of your efforts. 

What are the Restaurant Marketing Best Practices?

Nobody says you have to practice every restaurant marketing best practice, but we do have a few pointers you can utilize to make your results that much more awesome. 

- Respond to comments, both negative and positive. Let your customers and audience know you can hear them

-  Add reservation links to your social media pages and Google.

-  Consider utilizing Retargeting ads for customers who visit your website. 

-  Consider utilizing an influencer campaign to spread the word and get customers excited about your food and atmosphere.

What if I Don't Have Money to Implement These Restaurant Marketing Best Practices Yet?

For one, marketing is all about slow and steady community building, thought leadership, staying true to your brand identity, and engaging customers. Just work on it slow and get help where you can! 

How Much Does Restaurant Marketing Cost?

This is going to largely depend on your objectives, goals, timetable, resources, expertise...

In short, a lot of factors. But typically, it can run anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks to thousands depending on several determining factors.

Restaurant Marketing: The Wrap

In the end, marketing your restaurant online isn't incredibly difficult, but it does require a pretty substantial investment of your time, budget, and energy.

Why sweat the small stuff? Let us handle the details and watch the magic unfold on your brand's social media channels while customers fill your feed with online orders.

✨ What are you waiting for?? Get in touch TODAY!

Keith Kakadia

I am a native of New Orleans, LA with a passion for social media marketing, entrepreneurship, and making new connections. I enjoy the opportunity to work with amazing individuals and brands everyday.

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